Indianapolis Colts: Johnathan Hankins Signing Builds Optimism

With the recent addition of defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, the optimism around the Indianapolis Colts is undeniably growing.

The Indianapolis Colts front office have been a busy bunch and general manager, Chris Ballard, is quickly winning the hearts of fans. After a flurry of free agent signings, and with the NFL Draft approaching, optimism is abundant in Colts Nation.

The most recent of the free agent signings by the Indianapolis Colts is Johnathan Hankins. Originally drafted 49th overall by the New York Giants in 2013 out of Ohio State, the 6-2, 320-pound, defensive tackle should instantly bolster the Colts run defense that struggled in 2016. At only 25 years of age, Hankins joins a group of talented young free agent acquisitions that have, for many, solidified the faith in their new general manager, Chris Ballard.

With the free agent additions of Hankins, Margus Hunt, and Al Woods, accompanying the return of Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford, both from injury, the defensive front of the Colts appears to be vastly improved in both overall talent and depth.

The injection of youth did not stop there. Ballard has also improved upon the linebacker position with the additions of Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, Sean Spence and John Simon. The new face of the Indianapolis Colts defense is now one infused with athleticism.

Although the secondary does remain a concern, the signing of Hankins should allow the focus in the draft to shift away from the defensive line. There is considered to be a good amount of quality talent in this year’s cornerback class.

The group of big men on the offensive line features much more youth than experience and is also a likely position to be addressed in the draft. The quality and consistency of their play will improve as the existing group gains experience and a likely addition or two will assist with depth.

I expect the youth movement to also include the drafting of a young running back as Frank Gore, although holding his own, is not likely to get any younger (it’s almost guaranteed). Robert Turbin is also a quality back, but his running style is consistent with Gore’s and a fresh burst of speed and versatility would be a welcomed commodity.

Competition among wide receivers should be a hot topic as well leading up to the start of the season. In Kamar Aiken, at 6-2 and 213 pounds, the Colts have added some size and physicality. Beyond T.Y. Hilton, and likely Donte Moncrief, expect the depth chart to remain flexible as the group presses each other to improve.

Additional pieces of the puzzle will be placed throughout the NFL draft and the Indy faithful are eager to see the new Colts picture in its entirety. Not often do so many changes sit well with a fan base, but given the specific changes made and the struggles over the last few years, Colts fans, in general, are pleased with the outlook for the upcoming season and the quality of product being assembled by the front office decision makers.

Perhaps the only true concern lingering in Indianapolis is the status of starting quarterback, Andrew Luck, who underwent a surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Time will eventually shed light on his availability, but in general, there is tremendous optimism in the rebuild that is well underway.

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